CT Construction Digest Friday Januaru 24, 2020
BRIAN M. JOHNSON
SOUTHINGTON – Residents packed the meeting room at Southington Public Library to capacity Thursday as they heard explanations of what either an expanded library facility or a new building would bring to the town.
Just prior to the start of the program, Kevin Curtiss, chair of the library board, greeted the residents who attended.
“I can’t believe the turnout we have,” he said. “We’re so excited for this project and we’re glad that you’re all here to be the first ones to hear about it.”
Sadowski then began by giving residents some background information about the library. She said that building was constructed in 1974 and hadn’t seen major renovations since.
“The average library in the state still in use was built in 1991,” said Sadowski.
The current building is also not ADA accessible and does not meet fire codes. She said the library has spent $20,000 this year alone in making sure that aging HVAC systems were working and that the building has been designated as a cooling and warming center by the town.
Hoover said that he conducted a survey with residents and that 1,311 residents responded. More than 2,500 of those residents left additional comments about what they wanted from the library. This helped him to identify a list of priorities for the new or renovated building.
The priorities included a larger story and craft room to accommodate 30 kids, an early learning activity space with more computers and more accessible bookshelves for children. Teens would also see enhanced space, with a “hangout zone”, a homework and group project area.
The library would also see acoustic separation between quiet reading areas and areas with programs, a silent reading room, a senior spot, an expanded collection, a large meeting room for 150 people, a conference room, an internet café area, eight group study and tutoring spaces, an enhanced local history room and a more prominent Friends Bookstore.
The new building will also be compliant with building codes and access regulations and have a higher efficiency heating and cooling system. Both building plans would also see larger windows surrounding the structure to let in more light.
The renovated building plan calls for an addition to be made above the current structure. The library would remain open while renovations are underway, which Hoover said will add more time and cost to the project.
The new building plan would see a new building constructed to the right of the current building, in the parking lot area. The old building would then be demolished and new parking spaces would be created. While this plan would take less time, it will impact parking while the new building is under construction.
The square footage of the current library is 25,000. The expand and renovate plan would see a 38,000 square foot building with 125 parking spaces. The new library building plan would see a 36,800 square foot building constructed with 114 parking spaces. Either way, the library will have more parking than the 100 spaces required for its size.
Hoover then answered several questions from residents in the audience, before they were invited to get up to look at large blown-out pictures of the layout of the two building proposals. These proposals will also be viewable at southingtonlibrary.org.
Hoover said that an environmental impact study and hazardous materials abatements will be conducted regardless of which proposal is chosen. However, no contamination has shown up in previous site studies.
Hoover stressed that with the library being brought up to code, there will an adequate number of bathrooms and elevators. He also assured residents that he met with maintenance crews to get their feedback on proposals.
Sadowski said that the costs of the two plans are still being determined with the Planning Committee. The library will present the results to the Town Council at their first meeting in March.
Groton sub base may lose $72 million for new pier to Trump’s border wall
Washington — Congress approved nearly $72.3 million to build a new pier at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, but the money may be snatched away to help build President Donald Trump’s wall along the Rio Grande.
The money for the pier, the largest construction funding appropriated for the base in years, is among $10.5 billion Congress appropriated for military construction at U.S. bases across the nation and overseas, money that is spent on housing and schools, airplane hangars, base training centers — and new piers for submarines.
But because Congress only approved about $1.4 billion for the border wall project, Trump is preparing to divert $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for construction of the barrier this year.
The money would be drawn from military construction, or milcon, projects and Pentagon counter-narcotics funding. The administration plans to siphon $3.7 billion from military construction projects and $3.5 billion from military counter-drug programs.
This would be the second time Trump diverts Pentagon money for his wall. Last year, 127 military construction projects across 23 states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries were sidelined to pay for Trump’s border wall.
The administration has not yet released a specific list of projects it plans to target this year. This means all projects are on the table, including the proposed new pier at the submarine base, which is needed to accommodate the larger Virginia-class submarines Electric Boat is building under its new contract with the Navy.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, says the criteria the Trump administration will use in diverting military construction money is a “mystery.”
“Trying to figure out what the criteria is for reprogramming is a mystery,” Courtney said. “The administration is just reaching into milcon.”
He said he has discussed the fate of the pier’s funding with base officials and they have determined “the quicker the funds can be obligated, the better.” That means the quicker the Navy can commit the money to contracts to build the pier, the more protected that funding will be.
“Hopefully there is some ranking of projects as far as national security,” said Courtney, chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee. If that were the case, he said, the submarine fleet would be high on that ranking.
The diversion of Pentagon money has angered Democrats and unsettled a number of Republicans who have important construction projects in their districts and states.
“The president intends to double down on his smash-and-grab strategy of funding his border wall. To say this is unacceptable and infuriating would be an understatement,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
On the campaign trail, Trump said Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border. But that seemed unlikely and never came to pass.
So Trump turned to Congress for funding. After Democrats successfully blocked appropriating most of the money the president said is needed to build his wall, he then used what he determined were his emergency powers to reallocate money in the Pentagon’s budget.
Last year, Republican lawmakers pressed for “backfilling,” or replacing, the money for the $3.6 billion worth of construction projects that lost their funding in this year’s budget. But Democrats stood firm and prevailed in their refusal to replace that money, arguing Trump’s action violates constitutionally mandated power of the purse.
A similar showdown is expected if Trump follows through on his plan to raid military construction money again this year.
That means that if the pier money is diverted to build the border wall, it may be hard to replace.
There’s a concern the maintenance of military facilities is falling behind. Military construction projects currently have a $116 billion backlog. And the reprograming of Pentagon funds also has riled immigrant advocacy groups that oppose the creation of a border wall.
One of those groups, America’s Voice, is running ads against several GOP senators up for re-election, including Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and John Cornyn of Texas. Those lawmakers have home state military projects that are vulnerable to reprograming, but have supported Trump’s claim he has emergency powers to divert funding.
Spring groundbreaking set for $18M Boys & Girls Club facility in Hartford
he Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford (BGCH) on Thursday announced it will break ground this spring on a new $18-million recreation facility on land formerly housing the Alfred E. Burr Elementary School in the city’s South End.
Club officials were joined by city and state leaders Thursday afternoon at an event in which Gov. Ned Lamont declared Jan. 23 “Boys and Girls Club Day” in Connecticut, ahead of the ground breaking and to celebrate the organization’s 160th year in operation.
The event, held at the Asylum Hill Boys & Girls Club, 170 Sigourney St., also revealed new renderings of the development planned at the corner of Meadow and Ledyard streets on land the city gifted to BGCH for $1.
A campaign aimed at financing the new clubhouse is also nearing its target fundraising goal, according to officials, who also Thursday launched the “Dig In” campaign to reach the $18-million mark.
The development may also receive funding from New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), a little-known federal incentive that has brought major dollars into Connecticut over the past 15 years.
“With community-wide support from political leaders, the local community, businesses, individuals and foundations, we have made substantial progress toward our fundraising goal and are confident that we will begin construction in the spring,” Swift said.
BGCH is the oldest club in the nation after being founded in 1860 as the Dushaway Club. Four women from Hartford established the organization in an effort to help create “great futures” for hundreds of thousands of local youth, said BGCH CEO and President Sam Gray.